Church where Emmett Till’s open casket drew attention of world placed on list of endangered historic places

The South Side church where 14-year-old Emmett Tilll’s battered body was displayed in an open casket, helping to spark the civil rights movement, was placed on a list of the nation’s most endangered historic places on Thursday.

Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ is at 4021 S. State St. in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

“Though listed as a Chicago Landmark for its association with Emmett Till’s funeral, the church today has severe structural issues and is only minimally used by the congregation. To ensure long-term viability, the building needs rehabilitation funding and partnerships,” according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This undated photo shows Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old black Chicago boy, who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1955 after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi.

Emmett Till
AP file photo

The teen traveled from Chicago to visit family in Money, Mississippi, and was kidnapped from his uncle’s home on Aug. 28, 1955, for allegedly whistling at a white woman at a grocery store. His lynched body was recovered on Aug. 31, 1955, from the Tallahatchie River, barbed wire wrapped around his neck, face beaten beyond recognition, his body weighted down with a cotton gin fan.

Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted on an open casket to “Let the world see what they did to my boy.”

An estimated 100,000 people paid their respects at the church.

Roberts Temple was designated a Chicago landmark in 2006. Till’s boyhood home on the South Side, a brick two-flat in Woodlawn, was granted preliminary Chicago landmark status Sept. 3.

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